On November 11th, millions of Americans take time out to honor veterans of military service, and AMS management and employees join in this time of recognition. We, like many other Americans, realize that military service can be a great benefit to an individual, with training, bonding and experience that strengthens and empowers a young man or woman for life. On the negative side, military service can also involve a sacrifice of health and wellbeing along with other unanticipated challenges.
As we become aware of critical issues that veterans face after discharge from service, we look for ways to help members of the military who are returning to civilian life, and their families and communities. For most citizens, the desire to help is a natural outcome of honoring our veterans.
According to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), some of the greatest issues that veterans face are suicide prevention, the effects of trauma, involvement with the justice system, housing and homelessness, and economic and employment challenges.
It is understood that combat can cause loss and fear, and injuries surely take an emotional toll on not just the service member, but on the extended family and the community. The physical handicaps due to injuries sustained in combat can include disfigurement, amputation, and scarification.
We have all heard the reports that approximately 22 veterans end their life by suicide every day. Most of these veterans were diagnosed as having a mental health condition. SAMSHA lists the psychological effects as PTSD, survivor’s guilt, depression, and inclinations towards substance abuse/addiction.
We also know that due to mental health and substance abuse issues, veterans can and do become involved in the criminal justice system. Thankfully the courts do recognize the interconnection between criminal justice and behavioral health care for veterans, and these connections can be kept in mind in order to bring about true justice.
Reports also indicate that around 10% of homeless people are veterans. Among this group, three out of four experience mental and/or substance use disorders. About one fifth of veterans in substance use treatment were homeless. These facts are painful to see, but they are also circumstances that we as citizens and employers can seek to change.
One of the biggest challenges faced by service agencies is helping homeless and vulnerable veterans find and keep good jobs. This is where our employment practices and workforce development comes into play.
With the assistance of partners in the community, AMS has opened the door to hire and train veterans, individuals who are homeless, individuals with disabilities, and individuals with criminal justice involvement. This is not something we do to our detriment. The rewards of hiring with the intention of a social enterprise are great, in that we benefit ourselves with top notch employees, and we benefit our community with prosperity.
On this Veterans Day, 2018, we honor the veterans in our employ, and all men and women who took service to their country on their shoulders. Rather than looking toward government as the exclusive source of a solution for veterans, we recognize that business and community working together can have the power to change things for the better for our Vets.